The Harvard Vietnamese language curriculum is designed in a four-year sequence of courses to provide students with the four practical language skills: speaking, reading, writing, and listening. Students at the beginning level are provided with a solid foundation in pronunciation, grammar, usage of vocabulary, and proficiency in the four skills. The intermediate course aims to enhance students' skills at a higher level. The ultimate goals of the advanced and advanced-high level are that students are able:
- to communicate with native speakers on common topics
- to read authentic texts on common issues and use Vietnamese written sources for senior thesis research with a dictionary
- to write essays on the topics introduced during the three academic years
- to understand short news broadcasts on Vietnamese TV and radio.
The intermediate and advanced levels also introduce students to some aspects of translation from English into Vietnamese, based on American and British newspaper and magazine articles on Vietnam. Modern Vietnamese literature is used to teach the advanced-high course.